by Xiang Yang Zhang, Jun Liang, Da Chun Chen, Mei Hong Xiu, Jincai He, Wei Cheng, Zhiwei Wu, Fu De Yang, Colin N. Haile, Hongqiang Sun, Lin Lu, Therese A. Kosten, Thomas R. Kosten
The high prevalence of smoking in schizophrenia of European background may be related to smoking's reducing clinical symptoms and medication side effects. Because smoking prevalence and its associations with clinical phenotypes are less well characterized in Chinese than European patients with schizophrenia, we assessed these smoking behaviors using clinician-administered questionnaires and the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) in 776 Chinese male schizophrenia and 560 control subjects. Patients also were rated on the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS), the Simpson and Angus Extrapyramidal Symptom Rating Scale (SAES), and the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS). We found that the schizophrenia patients had a higher lifetime incidence of smoking (79% vs 63%), were more likely to be heavy smokers (61% vs 31%), and had lower smoking cessation rates (4% vs 9%) (all p<0.0001) than controls. Among the schizophrenia patients smoking prevalence increased with age, with the largest difference from controls in the age cohort of 55–75 years: 75% vs 46% (p<0.0001). Among the schizophrenia smokers 73% started to smoke before the onset of their illness by an average of 7.6 years. The patients with schizophrenia who were current smokers scored significantly lower on the PANSS negative symptom subscore (p<0.005), and on the SAES symptom scale (p<0.04; Bonferroni corrected p>0.05) than the non-smoking patients. These results suggest that Chinese males with schizophrenia smoke more frequently than the general population. Further, smokers with schizophrenia may display fewer negative symptoms and possibly less parkinsonism than non-smokers with schizophrenia.